I am afraid you got the wrong end of the stick. As for much to the surprise of those who think is grammatically correct. Consider the following expressions:
to be much to one's amusement (They were dancing and singing in the car, much to the amusement of passers-by.)
to be much to the consternation of somebody (A new power station is being built much to the consternation of environmental groups.)
to be [very much] to one's liking (
formal - if something is to someone's liking, they like it or think it is satisfactory)
This kind of film is to my liking, I have always liked horror.
As you can see, the structure of to be much to ... is grammatically correct. What you may have been bedazzled by is that the preposition is strange. You are right, but a collocation has its own strange structure that you cannot change.
It was much of a surprise to me that she chatted that guy up. (It surprised me.)
It was much to the surprise of mine (or simply to my surprise) that she chatted that guy up. (it is the same here but does sound strange, however, in your sentence it is normal)
As for further, bear in mind that farther refers to space (a greater distance than before or than something else; a
comparative form of
far), further refers to everything else (e.g. it has the meaning of more, something in connection with time, in addition).